The Sufficiency of Grace

I’ve got a message for you today. You’re not going to like it. It’s about grace.

I was feeling really crappy last week. I mean, really. On the verge of hysterical screams, in fact. My stress level was out of control, and I just couldn’t seem to pull it together. So I did something to put my pain into perspective. I found a picture of the crucified Jesus on the Internet (see right), made a little motivational poster out of it and hung it up in my cubicle at work. It said, “Even Jesus had bad days.” And below that, 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'”

There was something terribly poignant about that verse and that image coming together. Two hours later, I wanted to tear the poster off the wall. Continue reading

A Way of Looking at God

Imagine for a moment that you are an artist–a very talented artist capable of extraordinary work. One day, you decide to sit down and draw a detailed self portrait. Something like this:

By artist Paul Cadden, featured at gencept.com.

Yes, this was done with pencils.

Now imagine that you had a way of bringing this portrait to life. Not just in an animated sense, but in the conscious, independent thought and free will sort. Wouldn’t that be incredible?

Certainly it would. However, you’d soon discover slight obstacles to your creation’s understanding of you, the creator. You exist in three dimensions: length, width, and depth. Because your body was made in 3D, it is capable of processing information in 3D as well. But the living image you created is in 2D. As such, she can only process information in two dimensions. So some things you can see and hear, she can’t. Some places you go, she is unable to follow. In fact, there’s a whole dimension of you, the creator, that she is unable to grasp–it is hidden from her. In fact, there are only one or two angles from which she is able to see you at all. Even if you occupied the same room 24/7, you’d remain invisible to her most of the time.

So how would your creation seek to understand you? Continue reading

Asking for the Fire

In my last post, I wrote about becoming a living sacrifice by placing oneself on the altar of sacrifice–the place of spiritual purification. Today’s post is a bit of a continuation of that. Because you don’t have a sacrifice until God sets fire to it.

The Bible contains many verses on the subject of fire. And some of them are pretty tough to swallow:

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:40-42).

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“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned” (John 15:5-6).

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“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3:7-9).

Many ministers teach that the fire spoken of in the Bible is a terrible thing. And I suppose it can seem that way when people begin speaking about eternal judgment. But here are a few things God has shown me about fire in the scriptures: Continue reading

On the Altar of Sacrifice

Once upon a time, there was a guy named Abraham. He was really old and afraid that he’d die without an heir. But then God gave him a promise: his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. A couple of decades later, Abraham’s son is born–the firstfruits of a great promise.

And then God tells Abraham to do something unthinkable. He is to take his son up on a mountain and sacrifice him to the Lord. We know how the story ends: Abraham goes up to the altar, the Lord stays his hand, a ram gets the knife instead (see Genesis 22).

Atheists like to use this passage as evidence of God’s cruelty, even though Abraham kept his child in the end. But I think this scripture is indicative of something else–of what it means to be, as Romans 12:1 says, a living sacrifice. Continue reading

Show Me Your Glory?

Image: providencecpc.org

Yep, that’s a question mark up there.

I was worshiping in church on Sunday when the worship team started singing “Show Me Your Glory” by Jesus Culture. Here are some of the lyrics:

I see the cloud, I step in

I want to see Your glory as Moses did

Flashes of light and rolls of thunder…

I’m awed by Your beauty, lost in Your eyes

I long to walk in Your presence like Jesus did

Your glory surrounds me and I’m overwhelmed…

Show me Your glory, show me your glory, my God…

I hesitated to join in at first. I long to walk in Your presence like Jesus did… Last I checkedJesus went to the cross. I want to see Your glory as Moses did… And afterwards, he had to put a veil over his face because it was too bright to look at (Exodus 34:29-35). Continue reading